Welcome back to May’s meeting summary! I plan on providing a follow-up summary of each board meeting to try and help provide transparency for my decisions while on the board. All of the views, opinions and decisions in these summaries are my own. Here is the summary.
I want to remind everyone that if you would like to read the minutes for yourself you can go to https://go.boarddocs.com/oh/xeniaoh/Board.nsf/Public# and select meetings to see all of the past meetings. Then if you select a meeting there is a link to the agenda and minutes from that meeting. The minutes from the most recent meeting, however, will not be available until approved at the following meeting.
May 9th was board meeting number 5. We had a couple people get up to address the board on a few topics. I like seeing people staying actively engaged with the school. A few of the comments were about some of the items on the agenda that I will address later.
One of the things I suggested to Dr. Lofton, Dr. Hollander and her team when I got on the board was to conduct a student speech contest. I think activities like a speech contest give kids a chance to be creative, learn about a subject, and learn a valuable life skill like public speaking. I gave some ideas and the administration did an excellent job in putting it all together in a very short period. This year’s subject was poetry (as it was poetry month) and the older grade levels got to speak on who their favorite poet was and how that person/poem affected their life. There were 140 students across K-12 that participated and they all did a fantastic job. Awards and certificates were given out to the kids that participated and the winners from each division were invited to the Board Meeting to receive their prize and present their speech. Each speech was well done and inspiring. It was a great feeling seeing this idea come to fruition and the great work our students and staff did. I’m hopeful that next year we can move the speech contest into February and shift to a Patriotic Speech Contest incorporating great Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans. We have such a rich culture right here in Xenia that it would be amazing to have the kids learn about our own history.
The treasurer then presented the five year forecast. The main takeaways from the forecast are that we currently have a healthy budget and can continue to provide new and exciting programs to the students. We have also brought 63 positions back into the district instead of contracting them out. Another key takeaway is we have 2 renewal levies coming up this November that are very important. Without the levies we would have $0 by 2025. When looking at the five year forecast it is important to remember that the estimates for FY23 and FY24 are the most accurate. The further you get from the current year the more assumptions are in the estimates. It is always better to err on the high side for estimates or estimate with conservative numbers. Our Treasure correctly adds a lot of conservatism to the estimates for the later years of the forecast. Personally I think that over the next 5 years we will continue to spend very similar amounts to what we have spent the past 3 years. I don’t think inflation and costs will cause our expenses to increase by $10mil over the next 5 years, but it is good to be conservative and then add details or fidelity as we progress. One item that did come up was the increase cost of Warner Middle School. The rising inflation and supply chain issues have driven up the cost almost 30%. When the state funding for the new building comes through we will be able to cover those increases. The budget is also healthy enough to cover the increase cost for now as well. It will just be important to do everything that we can to keep costs down, although this cost increase was completely out of our hands. I encourage everyone to check out the finances. https://www.xeniaschools.org/leadership/district_financials
We then voted to approve the Superintendents consent agenda. Most of the consent agenda was hiring of new personnel or contracts for returning personnel. There were no topics pulled out of this month’s consent agenda.
There were 3 other big topics on the agenda for this Board meeting. The first was a discussion on the proposed policy for care of diabetic students. I motioned to have this item placed on the table for discussion but it did not receive a second and so the motion died for this month. I still had a little uncertainty about how the care was going to be handled and how much the policy should include vs the administration guidelines that are created after the policy is approved. With another month to continue to discuss and gather information I think a vote can be taken at the next meeting. I have spoken with or emailed a few parents, concerned parties, and friends to try and fully inform myself on the best possible solution. It is important that XCS provides the right care for the students.
The next big topic was a motion to approve leasing a new building for the XCS district offices. This motion also died with no second and may or may not be discussed at the next meeting. I know there was a bit of community discussion on this topic before the meeting and I definitely think not rushing into a decision was a good choice. I would love to hear feedback from the community on whether or not you think it is a good idea and why or why not. Also, if we don’t do the lease I would like to hear any ideas you may have on where we should be focusing those funds. Having information from the community allows me to support and inform the way I vote.
The last big topic of the night was a discussion on a resolution to remove our district from the lawsuit against the Backpack Bill or HB 290. For some context, before I was elected to the Board, the previous Board voted to join a lawsuit by the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding opposing HB290. There was a small, annual cost associated with joining this lawsuit. In my opinion the resolution is a bit strongly worded and should probably be edited to be more in line with exactly what it is asking and a little less political. I agree with the idea of the resolution though. I personally think that it is not appropriate to use tax payer dollars that are meant for educating our students, to join litigation. We already pay annual dues to the Ohio State Board Association that has a lobbying arm to support or oppose bills in the Ohio legislature. We can also send resolutions to our local representatives at any time voicing our support or opposition to a particular bill. I don’t think spending more money to also join a lawsuit is necessary or a good use of funds. I also think that a lawsuit, among other things, against a bill that is still in committee and not even completely written is a bit pre-mature. Other board members had various opinions, but this is what I voiced during the meeting. I appreciate that the board was able to have a discussion and I expect an edited version of the resolution to be put up for a vote at the next meeting.
A small note, due to summer schedule conflicts with several of the board member (including myself), the next board meeting was moved to 27 June at 6:30.
Please send me any comments, concerns, feedback, or questions you may have. I serve you and I am here to represent you to the best of my abilities.